Shelton American Legion holds high school oratorical contest

The American Legion Post 16 of Shelton is holding the annual American Legion Oratorical Contest.

The American Legion Post 16 of Shelton is holding the annual American Legion Oratorical Contest.

Contributed photo /

SHELTON — The Shelton American Legion Post 16 will join Legion Posts across the country in holding the annual American Legion Oratorical Contest.

The contest, according to Mike Kellett, American Legion 3rd District executive committeeman, exists to develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students.

Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship, Kellett said.

More than $203,500 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets a $25,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $22,500, and third gets $20,000.

Each state winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $2,000 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $2,000 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.

High school students younger than 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition. Legion department representatives certify one winner per state to the national contest, where department winners compete against each other in two speaking rounds. The contest caps off with a final round that decides the three top finishers.

Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with an emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to the government. Speeches are 8 to 10 minutes long; three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.

The winner at the county level receives a cash prize of $100 and advance to the statewide contest to compete compete against six other students. State contest winners stand to win up to $1,500 in cash prizes.

The contest in Shelton is scheduled to be held in January. The contest awards at the local level are $150 for first place, $100 for second place, $75 third place and $50 fourth place. Interested Shelton High School students should contact Erik Martire in the school’s Career Center.